Tag Archives: autism

Wings for Autism – Allowing Children with ASD to Prepare for Travel

(photo: usatoday.com)

(photo: usatoday.com)

With all of the hustle and bustle of a typical airport, including the security screenings and anxiety of being on a plane, the entire experience of flying can be nerve-wracking and aggravating for anyone.

However, for children with autism, the fear and stress can simply be too much to handle. As a result, families often dismiss the idea of taking trips together to avoid the potential meltdowns or anxiety that their child may suffer while on the plane.

To help ease the fears of children on the spectrum, Wings for Autism has developed a program that allows families to practice flying without having to ever leave the ground. Children are given the opportunity to take a practice run through all the standard procedures of an airport, such as getting to the ticketing line, boarding the flight, and even sitting on a plane.

Wings for Autism was developed by ARC of Jefferson County in conjunction with Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Alabama. The program has been running in many cities nationwide, and takes place annually, with directors hoping to hold the program more often.

Not only does the program enable children with autism to get comfortable with the airport and the experience of flying, but it allows staff to better understand how to help those with the disorder during times of distress when they travel. The experience gives staff a better perspective of how to approach autistic children, in order to help assuage their fears and make the experience of flying a much more comfortable one.

For more about the program and to enroll: http://www.thearc.org/wingsforautism



Camp Program Prepares Autistic Teens for College

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With growing numbers of autistic teens graduating high school and moving on to higher education, it is becoming essential to develop more programs that prepare these young adults for the next chapter of their lives.

One program that is helping these teens transition into college is the College Prep Summer Camp in Arizona, serving young adults on the spectrum between the ages of 16 and 26. For the third consecutive year, the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) has partnered with Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC) to host the summer camp.

In the week-long camp experience, the staff offers participants the opportunity to partake in typical college processes, such as admissions, moving into dorms, and attending classes. Furthermore, the students can participate in social activities such as student life, meeting other students at the university café, and partaking in group projects that focus on team building.

The accepted participants fall into three categories: those planning to go to college, those with some experience who plan to enroll again in the future, and those who have not attended before and had lacked the confidence to move forward with enrolling. Participants in each of these categories are given equal attention and opportunities to gain the skills that are necessary to advance in college.

When the week-long session concludes, participants can celebrate their new skills and achievements with family during a closing ceremony. After the camp ends, participants are also offered an online class they can take to further practice their college skills. If they complete the course, they are eligible for college credit.

Programs such as these are truly changing the way autistic teens and adults shape their futures, as it provides them with the chance to gain confidence in moving forward with the next step of their lives.



Shema Kolainu 17th Annual Legislative Breakfast A Great Success

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With esteemed political guests, great food, and artwork created by children presented as awards, the Annual Shema Kolainu Legislative Breakfast wrapped up as another wonderful success in 2015.

Speakers from all over New York City delivered inspiring addresses pledging their support for the special needs community in Borough Park’s Renaissance Ballroom.

The morning’s honoree was Dr. Merryl H. Tisch, Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents. Dr. Tisch has long served as an educational advocate.

Dr. Tisch began her career as a schoolteacher in Manhattan. She was later appointed to the Board of Regents in 1996. Eleven years later, she was elected Vice Chancellor of the Board, and soon after became Chancellor in 2009.

Also honored at the event was NYC Councilmember Andrew Cohen, and Zelig Friedman of The Tantzers, the dance group who performed at the Shema Kolainu Alumni reunion.

Opening remarks were made by Dr. Joshua Weinstein, Founder and President of Shema Kolainu Hear Our Voices.

“The mission of Shema Kolainu is to allow children with autism to enjoy a better life and a better future,” said Dr. Weinstein. “ We have seen such a tremendous amount of success stories from the kids.”

Also in attendance was Letitia James, current New York City Public Advocate and longtime friend of Dr. Tisch.

“From education, to poverty and beyond, Dr. Merryl Tisch’s advocacy knows no limits,” said James.

Shortly after, NYC Councilman David Greenfield introduced award recipient and fellow Councilman Andrew Cohen.

“Andrew Cohen has single-handedly saved millions of dollars this year for mental health services!” Greenfield said.

Finally, US Assistant Attorney Tali Farhadian Weinstein took the stage to introduce Dr. Merryl H. Tisch.

Dr. Tisch brought up a memory she had when dealing with a mother of a child who had special needs. After hearing much anxiety and uncertainty, it became clear that this mother wanted Tisch to be able to “fix” her child.

“We can’t fix them, but we can help every child in overcoming challenging circumstances,” said Dr. Tisch.

She wrapped up her speech by mentioning how honored she is to advocate for New York City’s children.

At the end of the ceremony, Dr. Joshua Weinstein delivered closing remarks.

“I want to thank Merryl Tisch again for what she stands for, what she has done, and what she will continue to do,” said Dr. Weinstein.



The Difference Between Tantrums and Meltdowns

child tantrum or meltdown

The definition of a meltdown is an involuntary reaction to overstimulation. There is little to no control on the sufferer’s part. Instead, the child is triggered by something which illicits a response. Tantrums, on the other hand, are a voluntary reaction meant to manipulate another person. The ability to distinguish between the two will help ease the situation and properly address the issue.

Here are some tips to help you recognize whether your child is having a meltdown or a tantrum:

1. Where is your child looking? When he/she is having a tantrum they will most likely be looking at you because they want to make sure they get your attention. But during a meltdown the child isn’t looking for a reaction so they typically don’t care if you’re watching or not.

2. Is the child aware of his or her social setting? Tantrum throwers will use certain situations to their advantage to get what they want. When it’s a meltdown, it doesn’t matter if it’s in a public place or at home.

3. Do they consider their own safety? When throwing a tantrum, the child will be aware of their surroundings and try to not get hurt. For meltdowns, the child is not concerned with anyone’s safety including their own.

 

When does the behavior stop? Tantrums will stop as soon as the child gets what they want. Once they get the toy or the piece of candy they were yelling for, their behavior will change. But with a meltdown, it can seem like nothing will calm him/her. It will need to run its course.

There is still good news! Once you’ve determined your child is having a meltdown there are some things you can try to help:

1. Learn the triggers. You will need to watch you child carefully when they are having a meltdown. Was it caused by the lighting? Loud noises? Too many people? Take note of the signals to watch for in the future.

2. Try to avoid injury. If your child tends to throw things, move him/her away from sharp objects or in a room without other people.

3. Comfort them. Find something soothing. For some kids, comfort can be sought through deep pressure treatments, massages, rocking back and forth, or a favorite toy.

4. Use previously defined cues. Work with your child on better understanding consequences. When he/she is having a meltdown you can use those soothing tones and words to be reassuring.

5. Avoid public places. This is easier said than done. But if you have an option to go to less crowded places, take it.

6. Take a third party. It’s always nice to have a helping hand. And when you’re out running errands you can leave the store to help your child if they have a meltdown.

7. Have a plan of action in place. Scope the place out early. You can even talk to the staff about your child’s needs.

8. Involve the child in your activities. This helps distract them so they are less likely to have a meltdown.

9. Discuss behavior beforehand. This will help the child know what is expected from them.

Many people think there is nothing you can do if your child is acting out in public. But knowing whether it’s a tantrum or a meltdown will make a world of difference for everyone. Ideally, as your child gets older, he/she will develop ways to cope with sensory overload so meltdowns will be less frequent.

To read the full article please visit http://blog.theautismsite.com/tantrum-meltdown/?utm_source=social&utm_medium=autaware&utm_campaign=tantrum-meltdown&utm_term=20150705

By Raiza Belarmino



The Easiest Thing You’ll Do All Day- ICareTV is Just A Click Away!

Autism…

Today, more people are hearing this word than at any point in human history.

But if you ask the world, “What is autism?” the responses vary.

To some, this word conjures up thoughts of people with superhuman abilities to organize and remember facts. To others, it is a strange disorder that makes it hard for some people to socially interact.

And for many, “autism” is the reason why they struggle for employment, why they are denied an education, why they are excluded from society’s definition of “normal”.

Since it was first formally recognized in the 1940’s, our society has made impressive steps to improve the  lives of those on the autism spectrum. Autism awareness increases daily and doctors are getting to know the signs better all the time.

But, where do we go from here? How do we take the next step towards global awareness, inclusion, and acceptance?

What the world needs is CARE:

Connections with the most experienced autism experts in the world

Accurate and immediate autism news and research updates

Revolutionary training videos for parents and caregivers

Education on autism that’s free and easy to access

Shema Kolainu’s Autism Webinar portal, iCareTV, provides what our global community truly needs to make the next step towards improving the lives of those with autism.

If life is a movie,  iCareTV allows the global community to look at it through a new lens.

With iCareTV, the world can watch in-depth workshops and webinars from leading professionals in the field, including Anat Baniel, Ari Ne’Eman, and Stephen Shore.

At the heart of this initiative is a common mission to provide greater awareness of new autism information and research findings. To provide a trustworthy, alternative autism news network. And, to provide a solid community of support for a world that deserves to understand autism better.

Making a real impact today is easier than you think. In this big world we live in, we are connected by a common hope that future generations are able to lead better lives. Make that hope a reality!

Register for free within a few minutes today:

http://www.icare4autismtv.org/



Solutions to Sensory Integration Dysfunction

sensory processing disorder

We live in a physical world. No matter how still or silent our surroundings may be, our bodies are always detecting the sights, sounds, smells, and tactile sensations around us.

Your average neurotypical person might feel most at ease in a ratty sweatshirt and a pair of blue jeans. A child with sensory processing disorder, on the other hand, cannot stand the polyester these materials contain and feels on edge whenever she wears them. She has a very different perception of the same material. This doesn’t mean that her senses are “inferior,” they are simply different.

One of the hallmark symptoms of autism spectrum disorder is SPD. This is characterized by having a disorganized manner of feeling and processing certain tactile sensations. What may feel slightly rough to one person may feel like sandpaper to an individual with ASD. However, the same can happen with stereotypically “soft” items like cotton or silk.

Rather than providing comfort, as they would for most, they agitate the individual and cause them to go into a sensory overload often culminating in a meltdown. If you were constantly in pain, wouldn’t you be screaming out too?

Due to the fact that everyone’s preferences are so individual, it’s difficult to determine what the best course of action is for maintaining a comfortable environment.  The best way to do this is through a simple test of trial-and-error. Of course, the stakes are different for children who become distressed at the touch of certain materials. It is best not to bombard them with potential disturbances.

A better solution would be to gradually and non-forcefully present them with items that could cause a reaction.  Sensory processing is not a simple problem to solve; however, starting off with something as simple as a test of yes-or-no presentations may be a step in the right direction to making the world a little less stressful for them.

By Sara Power



Safety In the Summer: Autism Cards

autism summer safety

Ahhh! Summer is officially here! The sun is out, the days are longer, and school is over!

The summer months are a great time for the entire family to relax, go to the beach, or watch a ballgame. Going on vacation is another great activity where families can explore a new place and create long lasting memories.

But big events and family outings like these can cause some concerns for parents. These days, many parents are utilizing “Autism Identification” in order to help keep their children safe when out of the house. Making it clear that a child has autism can ease concerns if they are discovered by a stranger. In this scary event, it becomes easier for the child to get the help they need.

Here are three forms of Autism Identification that can help ease parents’ stress:

1. Autism ID Card: One of the most agreed upon issues is better training for first responders like police officers, firemen, medical personnel, and others. This card explains autism as a medical condition that hinders the person’s ability to communicate with others. So not answering questions or follow directions should not be perceived as refusal to cooperate. On the back, the card lists an emergency contact number.

2. Medical ID Bracelets: This includes important medical information that can be helpful during an emergency situation or if a child were to become lost. They help locate the parent, caregiver, or physician if necessary. At times accidents may leave a person unable to talk. Having this bracelet would help give medical staff the information that they need.

3. “Hand in Autism” Autism Info Card: Many parents may have experienced embarrassment when their child displays negative behavior in public. They take this opportunity to educate others about autism by passing around the info card. The card includes some information about how many people are affected and some common difficulties individuals with autism may have.

Although we focused on summer vacation safety, these forms of ID are useful all year round. Information is the key and can really make a difference during a time of urgency. It helps the assisting personnel or authority figures properly asses situations. All the cards described above can be purchased online at a low cost. The Hand in Autism Info cared is actually a free download!

Written by Raiza Belarmino



Workshop Covers Emergency Preparedness for Autistics

emergency preparedness for autism

For the final Shema Kolainu workshop of the spring season, Dr. Stephen Shore of Adelphi University helped the audience with tips on disaster readiness involving people with autism.

When someone on the autism spectrum suffers from sensory overload or social difficulties, this adds an entirely new layer of difficulty to an already stressful situation. First responders, whether police officers, firemen, or 911 operators, are trained to respond quickly and often harshly. Even with just a small amount of awareness and training, authorities acting during emergencies can utilize effective and gentler techniques to accommodate a person with autism.

When a child or adult with autism encounters a police officer, there are some “unwritten rules” that may be understood by most, but are frequently missed. For example, a teenager with autism may come off as overly blunt or disrespectful when answering an officer, since they speak quite literally or may not understand the question being asked. One in a series of videos that Dr. Shore screened for the audience showed adults with autism being read their Miranda rights. Because of their difficulty communicating, many of these individuals did not understand their rights to remain silent, and whether they should be waived.

Dr. Shore emphasized in his presentation that a first responder should remain very calm and use extra patience when dealing with an autistic person. Flashing lights or a burning building are very intense for a child on the autism spectrum; it should be expected that their reaction will be intense as well, and a screaming meltdown may well ensue. It is important to comfort the child instead of demanding answers from them. In many cases, it may be required to restrain the person, so that they don’t run back into the fire or another situation that is dangerous for themselves and others.

Disaster preparedness is not only a topic of interest for authorities; perhaps the very first responder in an emergency is a parent. Therefore, parents must take extra steps to ensure their autistic child’s safety. Dr. Shore suggested that parents notify local authorities of their child’s condition and address, preparing police officers and other government officials for a situation where they may encounter their child in a state of high stress. They can then be educated on exactly how to handle the situation.

Parents may also alert others by providing their child with a medical ID bracelet, clearly giving out their name while making others aware of their condition, which is particularly helpful if the child is non-verbal. Another idea is to affix a sticker decal onto a car, or even on a child’s backpack, that lets others know how an emergency should be handled.

Sometimes, locking the doors is not always enough to ensure a child’s safety. It is advised that parents of an autistic child keep a close eye on them at all times, and that there is always a plan in place for when something goes wrong.

Written by Hannah Jay



Tips for Potty Training A Special Needs Child

potty training for special needs

Potty training is one of the most difficult things to do when your baby is progressing into toddlerhood. It’s a long process filled with accidents, impatience, and miscommunication. When you add in the aspect of disability, potty training can be even more difficult.

Children with special needs are not so different from kids who are typically developing. Though they may need to learn in alternate routes, they are capable of coming to the same conclusions and meeting the same goals as their peers. In recognizing this, the following steps have been recommended while toilet training your physically or mentally delayed child.

Recognize that feeling

First, it is important that you teach your child to recognize when it is that they need to go to the bathroom. One of the biggest rookie mistakes for new potty users is that they do not recognize their need and simply eliminate without prior thought, causing accidents. In order to control this, it’s important that you help your child learn to identify what their body is trying to say to them and to act accordingly.

Make sure all steps are followed thoroughly

Once recognition of need and control over elimination have been accomplished, the child must learn proper bathroom etiquette. One might think that potty ending would end as soon as the child learned to use the toilet rather than their parents, but that is not the case!

The following steps need to be taught: recognizing the need to go to the bathroom; waiting to eliminate until an appropriate time; entering the bathroom properly; manipulating clothing closures; pulling pants down; sitting on the toilet; eliminating in the toilet; using toilet paper correctly; pulling pants up; flushing toilet etc.

 

There is no one right way to address these steps with your special needs child. To modify this lesson, you must pay strict attention to your child’s abilities. Though you may have to wait until later in development, it is always possible and surely worth the wait!

Written by Sara Power, Fordham University



Film Gives a New Perspective on Autism

autism film x + y

The 2014 movie X + Y follows a young teenage boy’s journey through the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).

Nathan, the main character, is described as being socially awkward and having difficulty with the relationships in his life. It is soon discovered that he has a brilliant gift with numbers and is selected to be a competitor on the British team. The story goes on to follow his experiences with new challenges, particularly working to gain a better understanding of the nature of love.

It was inspired by the BBC television documentary Beautiful Young Minds where director Morgan Matthews takes you through the selection process and training for the competitors. Most of the young men on the team had some form of autism but excelled in mathematics. One in particular, Daniel Lightwing, was the focus and inspiration for X + Y.  As a child he struggled tremendously with the pressure from his parents and teachers to be social and “normal.” At the age of 16 he was diagnosed with Asperger’s, a syndrome that falls within the autism spectrum. Thereafter his parents realized that he simply had different strengths.

Once Lightwing found competitive math things got a lot better for him. His self-confidence and self-respect increased. In that environment he was able to relate to others more than he did in school or even his own family.

Soon after college he lived in China for some time where his academic achievements were held in high regard. He then landed a job at Google but encountered many struggles with social interactions. During his time there, he avoided others as much as possible. On the rare times he did participate, he was rejected.

Lightwing believes that the film is powerful in the way it portrays his experience with Asperger’s syndrome. It shows that there are many types of people in the world who are valuable and can contribute great things to society.

by Raiza Belarmino